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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

"Olive Kitteridge"

by Elizabeth Strout, 2008, 270p, rating=N/A

This book was too complicated for me! Too many stories of strange people. Somehow old lady Olive Kitteridge (main character) has been in these people's lives for one reason or another. What impact did she have on them? What would be of the town Crosby, Maine without her? What insights into the human condition did she discover from these people? These are the questions that were probably answered had I finished the book but I managed to only read about half way through the book. I figured that there were just going to be more different characters and their stories and I was tired! This book just received me in an unfortunate time. I found it dragging. I don't doubt this is a masterpiece to someone willing to be engrossed in the adventures in this book, but it's just not me!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Dear John"

by Nicholas Sparks, 2006, 434p (large print), rating=3

I started reading this almost a couple weeks ago but I left it at my sister-in-law's and didn't get a chance to pick it up until yesterday. I found the beginning unexciting so I didn't feel a rush to get it back. It got better! It was an easy read. Mr. Sparks doesn't mess with exotic words or deep thinking kind of writing. I believe he appeals to readers who likes honorable love stories and he is good at it. Here he ventures to convey true love.

Hmmm, the title is Dear John, now why was I surprised that John (main character) received the infamous Dear John letter? See, John while serving in the arm forces received a letter from Savannah, his girl that promised to wait for him, saying that she had fallen in love with someone else. Ouch!! What else can go wrong? Oh yeah, his dad. What next? Well, he discovers Savannah's new life and in honor of true love he does not stand in the way of allowing her this new happiness. He even uncovers a way he can anonymously make it better for her. What a man! ~By the way, Savannah's quite a woman herself ... you'll have to read the book to find out.

Really sweet book about relationships between lovers, friends, siblings, and father-son. John may not have gotten the girl, but then again... did he where it counted?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ch. 9: Prophets of God

from: Gospel Principles

A prophet is a man called by God to be His representative on earth. He teaches truth and interprets the word of God. He receives revelations and directions from the Lord for our benefit. He is a special witness for Christ, testifying of His divinity and teaching His gospel. He
calls the unrighteous to repentance. When he speaks for God, it is as if God were speaking.

Many people live in darkness, unsure of God's will. They believe that the heavens are closed and that people must face the wold's perils alone. How fortunate are the Latter-day Saints! We know that God communicates to the Church through His prophets.


Meet Thomas S. Monson, our current living prophet! He is the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has the right to revelation for the entire Church. He holds "the keys of the kingdom," meaning that he has the authority to direct the entire Church and kingdom of God on earth, including the administrations of priesthood ordinances (Matt. 16:19).

We should do those things the prophets tell us to do. The Lord will never allow the President of the Church to lead us astray. Moreover, if we obey, the Lord promises, "The gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name's glory" (D&C 21:6). Pretty cool blessings to me!

***Additional scriptures:
-Num. 12:6; Luke 1:70 (God speaks thru prophets)
-1Sam. 9:9 (prophet called a seer)
-Amos 3:7 (God reveals His secrets to the prophets)
-Mosiah 8:16-18 (a seer can now of things past & things to come)
-D&C 45:10, 15 (God speaks today as in days of old)
-D&C 43:1-7 (only the prophet is authorized to receive revelations for the Church)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Outliers"


by Malcolm Gladwell, 2008, 285p, rating=4.5

Wow! What a fascinating book! I was captivated from the get go!! Bare in mind that this is not a novel. More like a textbook. In fact you will find this under non-fiction. Anyway, it can be a tedious read since this can serve as a reference book. This even contains an index section! Yet, the way Mr. Gladwell compiled this thesis gave it flow that by book end, he has given you a feel of a novel with the added bonus of coming out intellectually fed! Whether or not his conclusions are disputable, they were undoubtedly convincing and interesting.

I am paralyzed. Where do I start? ...OK, the title is where he started. The definition of outlier (so glad he did, 'cause I was totally wondering what the heck that meant!): noun, (1) something that is situated away from or classed differently from a main or related body, (2) a statistical observation that is markedly different in value from the others of the sample. All right, so we discover that he will talk about the successful elites. Who they are, how they got there, and everything in between. Wow! This book has it all ... philosophy, sociology, anthropology, statistics, mathematics, history, science, etc. I was daydreaming back to my university years. I was reliving the wonderful feast of knowledge I found there. Now I want to go back (take away the exam anxieties though ...hehehe) to learn more and more and more! Anyhow, prepare for a spoiler ... Mr. Gladwell concludes, "They are products of history and community, of opportunity and legacy. Their success is not exceptional or mysterious. It is grounded in a web of advantages and inheritances, some deserved, some not, some earned, some just plain lucky--but all critical to making them who they are. The outlier, in the end, is not an outlier at all." pg 285.

My big take out ... WORK HARD! You want to be successful? Then find meaningful work, work hard, seize opportunities, and pray for luck.

Thanks Chique for putting Mr. Gladwell on my radar.

Monday, April 19, 2010

"The Christmas Box"


by Richard Paul Evans, 1993, 87p, rating=4

A tiny book with a huge message! I don't think I can review this without spoiling it for you so if you plan on reading this book, STOP and move on to your next blog friend.

But it's okay if you take a peek too because the message is important and should be shared anyways.

Just had a thought! I'm not going to tell you the story but I'll impart an excerpt from the book instead and then you can read how the character got to that point: "Somewhere between the angel and Mary's house I had figured it out. The gift of Christmas. It just came to my heart. The first gift of Christmas was love. A parent's love. Pure as the first snows of Christmas. For God so loved this children that he sent his son, that we might someday return to him." (pg 82).

A loving parent reading this book will come to identify the priorities of parenthood. Hence, this book would be an appropriate Mother's Day or Father's Day gift. Of course, also appropriate as a Christmas gift.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Book vs Movie

I watched the movie, The Notebook, on DVD yesterday and it was practically nothing like the book! I don't remember that carnival stunt, Allie's mother didn't have that much character, why did they leave out the crab dinner?, there was NO Martha, and that wasn't the ending ... just to name a FEW differences. If you watched it without reading the book you would still get a strong love story but having read the book I couldn't help point out the inconsistencies.

Which do I like better then? The book I suppose, but both was good in its element. The film version had to make appeal to drama and so the changes did that while the book stood as the original version and made it's own impact on the readers.

I wonder what affect it would have on me if I saw a film version first before reading the book it was based on? I'll have to try that one day and let you know.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ch. 8: Praying to Our Heavenly Father

from Gospel Principles:

Prayer is one of the greatest blessing we have while we are here on earth. Through prayer we can communicate with our Heavenly Father and seek His guidance daily. Jesus taught, "Ye must always pray unto the Father in my name" (3Nep 28:29).

Prayer will help us draw closer to God. We can pray for many reasons like: for strength to resist the temptations of Satan and his followers; to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness; for the Lord's guidance and help in our daily lives; for protection; to express love to our Father and to feel closer to Him; to thank Him; for families, friends, animals, crops, daily work, and our other activities; and so on.

We should pray in faith, "with a sincere heart, with real intent" (Moroni 10:4). We can do this anytime with need to communicate with Father, whether silently or vocally, in privately or in a group, standing or kneeling, etc. We should each pray privately and as a family every day and night.

Our sincere prayers are always answered, but perhaps not in a matter we might want or understand. Our prayers are always answered at a time and in a way that the Lord knows will help us the most. Hence, we must pray to God and to no one else (Exodus 20:3-5) so we may be righteous in our thoughts, words, and actions. ~Keep in mind, you may be an instrument in answering someone else's prayer so pray, listen, and act.

P.S. See previous post here about "how to pray".

Friday, April 16, 2010

"The Notebook"


by Nicolas Sparks, 1996, 214p, rating=4

The best Sparks book I've read so far! A sweet, flowing, and sensual novel. I like The Green Mile story telling style... an old man looking back at his young life. Oh, and what a love story!!

Noah and Allie came from different social classes and so it was going to have that West Side Story/Grease/Romeo and Juliet kind of relationship ... it wasn't going to socially fly! During one summer to remember, the two fell in love. Fourteen years later they meet again. Allie now engaged and Noah keeping busy in order to drown his love lost. In their two days of spending time together, their love again was overwhelmingly alive. The passion unbridled but true. Allie must now choose from two men whom she loves. Easy? Maybe.

Wow, I was stirred! Physically and emotionally. Hip hip hurrah for tender love!! Bring on being old!! That's all I can say without giving away too much. Now, I'm eager to see the movie version ...I know, I've been locked in a cave! It's no wonder I have time to read!! :)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"The Wednesday Letters"


by Jason F. Wright, 2007, 280p, rating=4

I had high hopes for this book because it was book #2 birthday gift from Mhai and she said she loved it. Up until page 144, I thought the book was just alright and that I'd have to lie to Mhai and say that I loved it too. But it turns out, I really loved it! I found myself sobbing. The beauty of forgiveness is miraculous and soul aching!

Jack and Laurel left this world in each other's arms (how sweet!! ...I smell foreshadowing) after a 39year marriage. Their adult children stumbles into boxes of love letters during the planning of their parent's funeral. Jack had written to his wife weekly on Wednesdays. The three children enjoyed reading the letters until they discover one letter that would turn one child's life upside down (REALLY fighting hard not to spoil this for you!!). But by book's end, his life became right side up in a truly awe-inspiring way.

This novel had few little extra stories that gave me an impression of messy story writing but the underlining messages --the excellent portrait of marriage, the great love story between parents and children, and the wonderful story of standing up for someone --were it's saving grace. Overpoweringly, the message of forgiveness was it's shining glory and my main reason for high rating of this book. I came out of this read grateful for the principle of forgiveness and makes me want to exonerate someone.

The very very end could have been better but reading the clever letter insert made up for it and I sobbed again!! ~Thanks Mhai for this wonderful read ... a true tug the heart book.

**My quotables:
"Now I know why the Lord took his day off on Sunday. That must be the day he personally greets his favorites." (this said after someone's death on a Sunday) pg. 132
"Time is a powerful cure." pg. 276

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"Short Girls"


by Bich Minh Nguyen, 2009, 292p, rating=1

The title caught my eye because, well, I'm short! I wanted to see what the author had to say. Well, I was disappointed! It was incredibly slow!! It felt like I was reading for hours and getting no where. There were too many details and going off tangents that didn't really help me appreciate the story line. I was close to giving up but I thought maybe the end would make up for the dragging read. It didn't really; even though I liked that it had a peaceful ending for the two "short" sisters, Van and Linny.

What an awful portrait of marriage! There were hints that the sisters' father (Dinh Luong) had an affair (the very least a troubled marriage since the father slept in the basement), Linny knowingly having an affair with a married man, and Van finding out that her husband was seeing another woman and the marriage ending in a divorce. True, this happens in real life but reading about it here didn't work for me! Plus, I didn't buy into the "Luong Arm" invention metaphor. I think it wasn't original and it was a stretch (pardon the pun) at making the title work. Just too many messages/morals that the author wanted to come across but failed to cohesively tell. It wasn't incredibly bad (towards the end was alright) enough to say that I want my several hours back because I have saved yours!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

"Ransom"


by David Malouf, 2009, 219p, rating=4

I didn't find this book as engaging as it deserves to be. This was the type of book that I needed a dictionary. I didn't stop to look the words up so clearly I missed a lot!! The author is also a poet so I'm sure this had some poetry style in it so that added to my lost state for I don't follow poetry well! Hence, I'm not one of those woman who could be wooed by a man who quotes me poetry because I won't understand it ... haha!! I know, sad...really sad. Although I found it hard to read, I rated it high because I don't want a good reader to miss checking out this book due to my poor rating, plus I really did like the story! Otherwise, I would rate this as a 3. Anyway, for those of you who read and like Homer's The Iliad and into the Trojan war era then this is the book for you!

I did manage to catch the story line of a king (Priam) who humbly ventures to ransom his slained son's (Hector) body from his killer (Achilles). Riding off not in a grand kingly manner but simply in a couple of mules. To plea not as a king but as a father. Achilles finds empathy towards the aging Priam (he reminds him of his father) and gives Hector to him. To me, perhaps this brings hope to some sort of foreshadowing of peace and end to come out of this war time. Good story. Maybe one day when I've shaped to be a seasoned reader, I may read this book again and really rate it excellent or better!

Ch. 7: The Holy Ghost

Receiving the Holy Ghost

from Gospel Principles:

Spirit children of our Heavenly Father began leaving God's presence to come to the earth to join the bodies of Adam and Eve's children and their children's children and so forth. As they came to earth, the memory of their heavenly home was taken from them but our Father did not shut them away from His influence. He sent the Holy Ghost to comfort and help and guide all of His spirit children.

The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead (Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost consist the members of the Godhead). He is a "personage of Spirit" (D&C 130:22). Meaning he can be in only one place at a time, but His influence can be everywhere as the same time. Reading this statement I was asking myself, "Huh?". Then, the candle light analogy came to mind. So in Jinky theory... a candle light can be placed at one spot but the light influence has a radius ... so in this case the Holy Ghost is at one spot but His light influence radius is everywhere.
The mission of the Holy Ghost is to bear witness of the Father and the Son and of the truth of all things. It is by the power of the Holy Ghost that we are led to the understand and live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Moreover, the convincing power of the Holy Ghost is so great that there can be no doubt that what He reveals to us is true. It is Spirit speaking to spirit so the manifestations leaves an indelible impression that is not easily erased ... so that's how you can know if anything is of God... the Holy Ghost will confirm it to you. Awesome! Another testament that our Heavenly Father loves us.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

"The Remarkable Soul of a Woman"


by Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 2010, 50p, rating=5
What a beautiful book cover and more importantly beautiful messages inside! The title in itself is already an uplift. President Uchtdorf is addressing all of us who have ever felt inadequate, discouraged, or weary. He shares two principles that may help to find a path to peace, hope, and joy (even during times of trial and distress) through: (1) the power of creating and (2) serving with compassion. Our venture at bringing something new into existence and as we serve others, we will feel the happiness we so earnestly seek and is inherited of us.

This book really addresses the remarkable soul of a woman by supporting us to remember the great power for good we truly are! We have talents, even when we think we don't, and we can give compassionate service, even in small ways. Thank you President Uchtdorf. I am pumped up!!

This is one of two books given to me as a birthday present from my honorary little sister. Thank you, Mhai! I love this book!!

**My quotables:
"The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul." pg.23
"As a spirit daughter of our Heavenly Father, happiness is our heritage." pg50

Friday, April 9, 2010

"Mission: Success"


by Og Mandino, 1987, 163p, rating=3.75

Another inspirational book from Mr. Mandino. This time drawing on his experiences as an Air Force officer. He manages to tell a rags to riches story that is fun to read and a message to boot! Through the cute relationship between an old lady and a young man (set in England during World War II), he was able to tie together and conclude with the "seeds of success" ... daily positive thinking phrases to instill in ones mind. My guess is that if one tells himself these things everyday, he would be able to brainwash himself to believe them and thus live each day in fulfillment. I especially like the concept of "friends in high places".

This book is a quick and entertaining way of inspiring one to be a positive thinker. I would recommend this to someone who wants a good uplift.

**My quotables:
"Successful people do the things that failures are afraid to tackle." pg 37
"Faith. It's the strongest armor a human can wear." pg. 87
"Success is not a journey, but a destination..." pg 97

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ch. 6: The Fall of Adam and Eve

from Gospel Principles:

Read this last week but I didn't get around to blogging about it because I
got busy preparing for my Easter weekend trip to Salt Lake City, Utah to see General Conference and celebrate my birthday. Anyway, Adam and Eve were the first to come to earth. They were our Father's noblest children. In the Garden of Eden, they were not yet mortal. They had physical life because their spirits were housed in physical bodies made from the dust of the earth. They had spiritual life because they were in the presence of God. Then when they partook of the forbidden fruit, the changes that came upon them became known as the Fall. They then became mortal ... they and their children would experience sickness, pain, and physical death. This also meant that they and their children could not walk and talk face to face with God. Hence, they and their children were separated from God both physically and spiritually.

Some people believe that they committed a serious sin when they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. However, great blessings resulted from this transgression. As prophet Lehi explained: "And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen (been cut off from the presence of God), but he would have remained in the Garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created... And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. But behold, all things have been done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things. Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy" (2Nephi 2:22-25). Consequently, the Fall was part of the plan of salvation.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The First Easter

We have Easter to remind us of the day that Jesus arose from the dead.
All over the world, people who love Jesus celebrate his resurrection on this day.

He has risen so we too can live again after we die.

Happy (belated) Easter!!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Saving CeeCee Honeycutt"

by Beth Hoffman, 2010, 468p (large print), rating=3

The book cover caught my eye as I was browsing through the books at Costco. What a crisp and beautiful cover picture! I know people say, don't judge by the cover but look at this, too pretty not to see what's inside. The designer did a great job because they got me hook, line, and sinker! Anyway, this was a no-brainer, fun book. A story about a pre-teen girl that went through a role reversal when having to take care of her mentally ill mother while her father used the excuse of long business trips to be away from them. CeeCee had to endure the embarrassing psychotic episodes and privately "wished" her mother to die; and unexpectedly the wish comes true! Her father agrees to send CeeCee to live with her great-aunt in Savannah, her mother's country roots. She soon is encircled by charming character of women that she will come to know as family. First, she will have to find out if her outcast life back in Ohio will transfer to her new life in Savannah or will she be popular? Above all, she will have to test her father's words of "One day you'll thank me."

I want to live with her great-aunt Tallulah, better known as Aunt Tootie!! The southern ways and the exotic women were inviting. Beautiful place with beautiful culture. Sweet to read about southern hospitality and southern antics ... really tickle your funny bone moments!

I would recommend this to someone looking for a simple, curl in a warm corner, chick book.

**My quotables:
"Life will offer us amazing opportunities, but we've got to be wide-awake to recognize them." pg. 160

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